Best Automatic Watches Under $500 in 2023
Jean Arevalo19 October 2023 | 16 min read
As a newbie watch enthusiast stepping into the world of horology, you may find it difficult to understand all of the terminology involved.
With the multitude of watches available today, we recommend that you start checking out an automatic watch.
As you might not know, automatic watches combine the highest ideals of craftsmanship, legacy, and longevity with the practicality of a self-winding movement.
This mechanism powers some of the top luxury timepieces on the market today, which may pique your interest.
In today’s article, we will delve deeper into the 15 best automatic watches under $500 you can find on the watch market.
We have sorted them into 3 sections, making it a lot easier for you to choose an automatic watch, whether you’re hunting for a dress, diver, or field timekeeper.
What are Automatic Watches?
To start, let’s break down the scenario at hand. The mechanism that drives the timepiece is called a calibre or watch movement.
It provides the hands with the same level of power as any dual time, calendar, or chronograph. The watch’s mechanism is powered by tiny movements.
An automatic watch is considered a self-winding timekeeper. The mainspring of a mechanical watch needs to be wound up from time to time to drive the gears.
In order to wind a mechanical watch, the most typical approach is to turn the crown located at the 3, 6, or 9 o’clock position.
But of course, it doesn’t imply that the watch will automatically wind itself.
When you wear an automatic watch, the built-in mechanisms wind the watch as you move your wrist.
These movements are propelled by internal springs or rotating weights within the movement.
Other automatic movements employ self-rotating ball bearings to move the internal gears and wind them using the kinetic energy produced by your movement while using them every day.
5 Best Automatic Dress Watches for Under $500
To give you plenty of options, let’s first take a closer look at the incredible features of the five best automatic dress watches under $500 on the market today.
1. Orient Bambino Small Seconds AP0003S10B
Orient is one of the highly prestigious Japanese watch brands that focuses on creating sophisticated, extremely reliable watches.
One of the best offerings from the brand is this Orient Bambino Small Seconds AP0003S10B, which retails for around $235.
Right off the bat, the Orient Bambino Small Seconds AP0003S10B offers a minimalist vintage style that is perfect to be worn with any suit or formal wardrobe you have.
It is easily noticeable thanks to its beguiling champagne dial with a straightforward design.
The Orient Bambino Small Seconds has a hefty 40.5 mm stainless steel case, which is paired with a brown leather strap with a buckle clasp.
The handsome dial is adorned with silver-hued hands and Arabic numeral indices at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock. Affixed on top is a domed mineral crystal to protect it from any external threats.
Spotted at 3 o’clock is a simple date display printed in a black tone with a white background. You can also find the crown in the same position. And near 6 o’clock, you’ll find the small seconds sub-dial.
Flipping this watch over, you’ll be welcomed with a well-polished stainless steel caseback that safeguards the high-end mechanism that runs inside.
Driving this Orient Bambino Small Seconds AP0003S10B is a top-grade in-house calibre F6222 automatic movement. This particular mechanism offers up to a 40-hour power reserve.
Lastly, this dress watch is integrated with a useful 30-metre water resistance, which is enough to survive any accidental splashes or shower drops.
2. Tissot T-Classic Automatic T129.407.16.051.00
Next up, we have the ever-elegant and sophisticated Tissot T-Classic Automatic T129.407.16.051.00.
If you prefer to own an almost all-black, classic dress watch, you should definitely get a piece of this Tissot T-Classic Automatic.
The Tissot T-Classic Automatic T129.407.16.051.00 is presented in a 42mm 316L stainless steel case with a smooth and well-polished finish.
It is paired with a striking black dial and a comfortable black leather strap.
On top of the dial, you’ll find a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating for extra protection against damage.
Much like a typical dress watch, the date aperture is easily noticeable at 3 o’clock. It is printed in a white tone, which creates a perfect contrast to the dial.
The hands and stick indices are now made in a silver-tone material with minute markers around the outer rim. You’ll also spot the brand’s name and origin date near 12 o’clock.
Once you flip the Tissot T-Classic Automatic T129.407.16.051.00 over, you’ll find a see-through caseback that allows anyone to adore the beauty of movement inside.
What ticks inside this T-classic automatic dress watch is a cutting-edge Tissot SWISSMATIC automatic movement. It is claimed to deliver up to 72 hours of power reserve with unrivalled accuracy in timekeeping.
With a price point of $495, the Tissot T-Classic Automatic T129.407.16.051.00 is a must-have dress watch for someone searching for a high-end, stylish timekeeper. Not to mention, it has 50 meters of water resistance to survive any wet conditions.
3. Glycine Combat Classic Moonphase GL0115
Another classic and one-of-a-kind automatic dress watch joining our list is the Glycine Combat Classic Moonphase GL0115.
This model has a minimalist look but is easily noticeable due to its unique Moonphase feature, spotted near 6 o’clock.
The Glycine Combat Classic Moonphase GL0115 comes with a 40mm stainless steel case with a streamlined finish.
The silver dial has silver hands and stick indices, which are both coated with a green Super-LumiNova for best reading, even if the watch is in low-light conditions.
Additionally, the domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating is adorned on top of the dial for extra protection.
What completes the elegant appearance of this Glycine Combat Classic Moonphase is a brown leather strap. It also comes with a polished stainless steel buckle clasp to securely fit on your wrist.
It is also a highly water-resistant timepiece, integrated with a 50-metre rating.
For the most impressive feature, the Glycine Combat Classic Moonphase GL0115 is powered by a cutting-edge in-house calibre GL280 Swiss automatic movement.
Thanks to its transparent caseback, you can freely view this beautiful mechanism inside. It delivers up to 38 hours of power reserve and beats at 28,800 bph.
Just prepare to shell out around $360 before you can get a piece of this stunning dress watch.
4. Bulova Classic Automatic 96A268
If you’re someone who adores a rectangular-shaped timepiece, you should check out this Bulova Classic Automatic 96A268.
Coming from the luxury watch brand Bulova, this dress watch is definitely a must-have.
The Bulova Classic Automatic 96A268 is available in a 33mm stainless steel case, which is perfect for those with smaller wrists.
It has a sleek and sophisticated look that will surely look great on your wrist. Its rectangular shape is one of its charms, appealing to those who prefer to wear something unique.
What makes this particular Bulova watch stand out is its open-heart dial, which allows you to view the powerful mechanism that drives inside.
Aside from that, the silver-white dial is jam-packed with lots of useful features, such as gold-tone hands and Arabic numeral indices, and black-hue minute markers around the outer rim.
Affixed on top of the dial is a scratch-resistant mineral crystal for double protection against any external threats. The comfortable brown leather strap completes the stylish and suave look of the watch.
Speaking of mechanism, the Bulova Classic Automatic 96A268 is driven by a top-tier calibre 82S0 automatic movement.
Held together by 21 jewels, this movement offers up to 42 hours of power reserve and beats at 21,600 bph. Not to mention, it delivers an incredible accuracy of -20~ +40 seconds per day.
To complete the whole high-end features of this dress watch, Bulova ensures an in-depth 30-metre water resistance. For a dress watch, this rating is already more than enough for the timepiece to survive any water splashes.
Overall, if you want to own this exquisite dress watch, then prepare to splurge at least $425.
5. Seiko Presage Cocktail SRPB41J1
Looking for a dress watch with a sleek stainless steel band? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. We have here the Seiko Presage Cocktail SRPB41J1.
Even at first glance, you can already tell that this Seiko Presage Cocktail is a high-class dress watch equipped with top-of-the-line features.
The Seiko Presage Cocktail SRPB41J1 comes with a 40.5mm stainless steel case and bracelet with a well-refined finish.
The captivating blue dial is paired with silver-tone hands and stick indices. It also comes with minute markers around the outer rim for easy reading.
On top of the dial, you’ll find a hardlex crystal that serves as protection against any damage. A date window is located at the usual 3 o’clock spot, like most typical dress watches.
Additionally, this is a water-resistant timepiece with a useful 50-metre in-depth rating.
Coming from the reputable Seiko catalogue, you can expect a high-end movement inside the Seiko Presage Cocktail SRPB41J1.
To be specific, it is run by a top-notch in-house calibre 4R35, a Japanese automatic movement with a claimed accuracy rate between +45 and -35 seconds per day. It also offers up to 40 hours of power reserve.
For an affordable price of $450, you can already purchase this fancy Seiko Presage Cocktail SRPB41J1 dress watch.
5 Best Automatic Dive Watches Under $500
In this section, we will discuss the features of the 5 best automatic dive watches whose price range is still below $500.
1. Vostok Amphibia Scuba Dude 420059
First, on the list, we have one of our reader’s favourites, the Vostok Amphibia Scuba Dude 420059.
If you’re not familiar with the brand, Vostok is actually a Russian watchmaker founded in 1942. They’re renowned for producing rugged and reliable military and diving watches.
Going back to this Vostok Amphibia Scuba Dude, the brand made it in a hefty 40mm stainless steel case and bracelet.
Both have a streamlined, polished finish that blends well with the ever-striking ocean blue dial. It has a screw-down crown and a date display at 3 o’clock.
As one of the most important features of a diver watch, the Vostok Amphibia Scuba Dude 420059 has luminous hands and indices for easy reading, even if it is exposed in a dimly lit environment.
It has a bi-directional bezel and a shock-resistant feature, showcasing its ruggedness and rigidity to survive any conditions.
Crafted as a diver’s time-telling device, the Vostok Amphibia is, of course, integrated with a whopping 200-metre water resistance.
This rating is definitely more than enough for you to enjoy swimming, snorkelling, diving, and any other water activities.
Furthermore, the self-winding automatic watch is powered by a state-of-the-art Vostok calibre 2416B automatic movement.
It is held together by 31 jewels, offers a 31-hour power reserve, and claims to deliver an accuracy of -20/+60 seconds daily.
All you need to do is set aside a budget of $70 to get a piece of it, which is definitely a great deal for a diver watch, considering all of its amazing features.
2. Dan Henry 1970 Automatic Diver Orange
Dan Henry is one of the newly minted watch brands on our list, with an established date back in 2016.
However, this does not mean that the watch brand has no high-calibre watch catalogue.
In fact, being named after its founder (Dan Henry), a well-known watch collector, the brand has always been popular for its best-value-for-money watches, jam-packed with great features.
Specifically, the Dan Henry 1970 Automatic Diver Orange is our top-pick recommendation.
At first glance, you can already tell that this particular diver watch offers a quirky and unique style. It has a colour combination of black, orange, and silver.
The Dan Henry 1970 Automatic watch has a classic 44mm 316L stainless steel case, which is paired with a matte black dial and a black rubber strap.
The beautiful dial surely grabs anyone’s attention with its orange-minute chapter rings. It has two screw-down crowns located at 2 and 4 o’clock.
Like the previous dive watch, this Dan Henry has coated its dial’s hands and indices with Swiss LumiNova to have the best legibility.
It is also equipped with a 60-minute inner rotating bezel, which functions by simply pushing the 2 o’clock crown.
On the underside of the Dan Henry 1970 Automatic Diver Orange, you’ll find a well-polished screw-back case with a Scaphtopus 3D medal.
It protects the Seiko calibre NH35 automatic movement that runs inside. Under normal conditions, this mechanism is claimed to offer -20~+40 seconds per day with a 41-hour power reserve.
Meant to be a diver watch, the Henry 1970 Automatic Diver is integrated with a 660 feet or 200 metres water resistance rating.
Lastly, this particular Dan Henry watch model sells for around $310.
3. Seiko SKX013 Black Dial
Seiko watches are consistently best known for their lineup of Seiko SKX dive watches with a budget-friendly price point.
In particular, the Seiko SKX013 Black Dial deserves to be on your radar, especially if you’re hunting for an affordable, small diver watch.
The Seiko SKX013 Black Dial has a 37mm size, which is an ideal option for those with small wrists. It is presented in a well-polished and brushed stainless steel bracelet and case.
The black dial is jam-packed with lots of amazing features, such as luminous hands and indices, a day-and-date function at the usual 3 o’clock, and minute markers around the outer rim.
Not to mention, it has a hardlex crystal on top that safeguards the watch from damage.
Ticking inside this Seiko dive watch is a top-grade in-house calibre 7S26 automatic self-wind movement. Being held together by 21 jewels, this Japanese automatic movement offers a 41-hour power reserve with an estimated accuracy of +25 / -15 seconds per day.
What’s more impressive about this mechanism is that it also comes with an anti-magnetic resistance of up to 4,800 A/m (60 gauss).
To complete the great package, the Seiko SKX013 Black Dial is integrated with an enormous 200-metre water resistance capacity.
Depending on the watch website or retail store, you can purchase this Seiko SKX013 with a starting price point of $250.
4.Tissot Seastar 1000 POWERMATIC 80 T1204071104100
Wanting to own a Swiss automatic dive watch at an affordable price? You should start checking out all the great features of this Tissot Seastar 1000 POWERMATIC 80 T1204071104100.
The Tissot Swiss watchmaker has been in the horology industry as early as 1853, so you can assure that they only offer high-calibre, functional timepieces.
Now for this Tissot Seastar T1204071104100, it is crafted in a 43mm size utilising a well-polished 316L stainless steel.
For a legible dial, the classic blue face is adorned with luminous hands and indices to ensure divers can still easily read time even in dark places.
It is also protected against any threats thanks to the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal affixed to the top.
As the ultimate diver watch, this Tissot Seastar is equipped with a streamlined stainless steel bracelet. It is accompanied by a folding clasp with safety and diver extension.
The watch is also equipped with a screw-down crown located at the typical 3 o’clock spot and a ceramic bezel ring around the case that enhances its robust feature.
To accompany you on your next diving escapade, the Tissot Seastar T1204071104100 is integrated with an extensive 300-metre water resistance rating.
For sure, this rating is more than enough to enjoy any other water-type adventures.
Finally, to give you the best timekeeping experience, the brand uses its very own advanced-calibre POWERMATIC 80.111 automatic movement to run the watch. It offers a superior 80-hour power reserve.
If you want to witness how this beautiful mechanism works, then simply flip your watch over, as it’s adorned with a transparent caseback.
The Tissot Seastar 1000 POWERMATIC 80 T1204071104100 retails at $497 and can possibly go higher depending on the retail store where you purchase it.
5. Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic Green
Last but certainly not least, we have the classic Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic Green. Thanks to its beguiling green dial, this Citizen dive watch easily stands out in the crowd.
The Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic Green is a great piece, available in a beefy 44mm stainless steel case and bracelet. Its sleek, shiny finish blends well with the striking green dial.
Like other Citizen dive watches, this particular model is also packed with a green rotating bezel and a sapphire crystal.
The dial’s hands and stick indices ensure they glow in the dark, as they’re both treated with a luminous material.
Another unique feature of this Citizen Promaster Dive is that its screw-down crown is placed at the unusual 8 o’clock marker.
Performance-wise, the Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic is powered by a top-grade in-house calibre 8204 automatic movement.
It has a 42-hour power reserve with a claimed accuracy of -20 to +40 seconds per day. Additionally, the watch is fully equipped with a 200-metre water resistance rating.
Retailing at just $476, the Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic Green is a great option for those on the hunt for a classic, reliable dive watch companion packed with impressive features.
5 Best Automatic Field Watches for Under $500
Now let’s review the impressive features of the 5 best automatic field watches retailing at under $500.
1. Timex Expedition North Automatic TW2V95300
If you’re searching for a highly reliable field watch you can wear both on the field and for formal occasions, this Timex Expedition North Automatic TW2V95300 is certainly what you’re looking for.
It has a simple design that every minimalist out there will surely love.
The Timex Expedition North Automatic TW2V95300 is made out of a durable 41mm titanium case with shock-resistant features.
It has a nice grey dial and a green olive fabric strap. To fulfil one of the field watch’s characteristics, the dial’s hands and Arabic numeral markers are filled with SuperLumiNova for optimal legibility.
On top of the dial is a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal that protects the watch at all times. At 3 o’clock, you’ll find a simple date window and a screw-down crown.
Additionally, this is also a water-resistant watch, with Timex ensuring a very useful 200-metre in-depth rating.
Movement-wise, the brand opted to utilise a cutting-edge Japanese automatic movement to ensure unrivalled accuracy in timekeeping.
You can purchase this classic field watch for just $349.
2. Vaer A5 Design Navy 40mm
Getting our number 2 spot is another classic, minimalist field watch called the Vaer A5 Design Navy 40mm. This particular model comes from the extensive catalogue of American brand Vaer, which originated back in 2016.
They’re known for crafting robust and reliable outdoor timepieces retailed at an affordable price tag.
The Vaer A5 Design Navy 40mm is available in a 40mm size case made from well-polished 316L stainless steel.
The blue dial offers a clean look but is not too boring thanks to its orange-toned second hand.
It has luminous hands and Arabic numerals at 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12 o’clock.
To ensure its durability and adventure-ready features, the Vaer A5 Design Navy is equipped with a highly scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
It is also a waterproof watch with a 100-metre resistance capacity.
Perhaps the only downside is that it has no date window, a common field watch feature.
When it comes to the mechanism, Vaer opted to power this watch using a Japanese Miyota 9039 automatic movement.
Aside from offering up to a 42-hour power reserve, this movement is also commendable for delivering an estimated accuracy of -10 ~ +30 seconds per day.
All in all, the Vaer A5 Design Navy 40mm is a go-get timekeeper you can wear to both outside and formal events, whose price tag is around $449.
3. Hamilton Khaki King Series Automatic Watch
The Hamilton Khaki King Series Automatic Watch is a good looking field watch with lots of amazing features to offer.
As part of Hamilton’s collection known for its lineup of robust field watches like the Hamilton Khaki Field, you can be sure that this timepiece is of high quality.
The Hamilton Khaki King Series is now available in a 40mm stainless steel case, which is paired with a cool black dial and a brown leather strap.
It comes with a fixed bezel with a shiny finish.
Staying true to the field watch’s identity, the dial is furnished with luminous hands and Arabic numeral indices for best legibility.
Plus, it is equipped with white minute markers around the outer rim and a 24-hour GMT scale. The watch is also waterproof, with a sufficient rating of 50 metres.
What makes this Hamilton Khaki King Series Automatic Watch stand out from the rest of its counterparts is that its day and date window is placed at the 12 o’clock marker.
Not to mention, it is driven by the brand’s very own cutting-edge calibre H-40 Swiss automatic movement. This mechanism is highly praised for offering up to 80 hours of power reserve.
On the underside of the watch, you’ll find the striking skeleton caseback that allows you to view the robust mechanism inside.
The price of this Hamilton Khaki King Series Automatic Watch starts at as low as $469 and can go higher depending on the watch retail store you’ll buy from.
4. Vario 1945 D12 Sand Beige Field Watch
Next, we have the Vario 1945 D12 Sand Beige Field Watch, which offers a classic, vintage-style look. This specific watch model is from Vario’s massive lineup.
For those who aren’t familiar with the brand, they’re a micro-brand founded in 2016 and based in Singapore for more microbrand ideas you may want to check out our previous article: A Complete Guide to the Best Microbrand Watches.
The dial is jam-packed with luminous hands and Arabic numerals, a straightforward 60-second sub-dial, as well as an anti-reflective, anti-scratch sapphire crystal. Not only that, it also comes with a screw-down crown you can spot at 4 o’clock.
Another great thing about this timepiece is that, despite coming from a Singapore-based brand, it is driven by a powerful Japanese Miyota 82s5 automatic movement.
This mechanism is known for its accuracy of -20 ~ +40 seconds per day. Plus, it has a 42-hour power reserve and 100-metre in-depth water resistance.
The price at the time of writing was $368, making this Vario 1945 D12 Sand Beige Field watch a great choice for the money.
5. Seiko 5 Sports SRPG35K1
Completing our list of the best automatic watches is another high-end Seiko watch model. Specifically, the Seiko 5 Sports SRPG35K1 is a quintessential field watch that delivers utmost timekeeping.
This Seiko 5 Sports is presented in a 39.4mm stainless steel case size, paired with an eye-catching black dial and a comfortable brown nylon strap.
Like the rest of the field watches, this timepiece offers the highest legibility thanks to its Lumibrite filled on the dial’s hands and Arabic numeral markers.
Affixed on top of the dial is also a curved hardlex crystal that safeguards it against any scratches or damage.
As a Japanese-made watch, the Seiko 5 Sports SRPG35K1 ensures unparalleled accuracy with the in-house calibre 4R36 automatic movement inside.
Held by 24 jewels, this mechanism has 40 hours of power reserve with an accuracy between +45/ -35 seconds per day.
Additionally, it is also integrated with a water resistance rating, which is 100 metres in depth.
Finally, you can purchase this first-rate Seiko 5 Sports SRPG35K1 by spending at least $260.
Exploring the watch world, you’ll definitely be surprised at how vast it is in offering the best automatic watches, not to mention reputable brands offering their own versions.
Plus, another thing you should always consider is the amount of budget you’re willing to spend on owning a stylish, reliable automatic timekeeper.
Having said that, if you’re currently looking for a reliable automatic watch in the sub-$500 price range, you’ve come to the right place.
To find your brand-new automatic watch, simply look through our list of the top 15 automatic watches above.